Plea in SC for uniform divorce, alimony rules
The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea to frame uniform guidelines on divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions.
A petition was filed in the court that argued divorce, maintenance and alimony laws in certain religions discriminated and marginalised women.
These anomalies, varying from one religion to another, were violative of the right to equality (Article 14 of the Constitution) and right against discrimination (Article 15) on the basis of religion and gender and right to dignity.
Therefore, the laws on divorce, maintenance and alimony should be “gender-neutral and religion-neutral”.
Status of Personal Law in India:
Personal law subjects like marriage, divorce, inheritance come under Concurrent list.
Hindu personal laws have been by and large secularized and modernized by statutory enactments (The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955).
On the other hand, Muslim personal laws are still primarily unmodified and traditional in their content and approach (Eg: Shariat law of 1937).
Apart from it, Christians and Jews are also governed by different personal laws.
Article 142 “provide(s) a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.
Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which applies to all communities lays down the provision for maintenance of wives, children, and parents if they do not earn enough and reasonable means to maintain themselves, or suffer from any physical or mental incapacity. Under this section, even a wife who has not divorced her husband has the right to get maintenance from her husband.
Maharashtra House resolution on Arnab Goswami and its face-off with judiciary
Questioning the boundaries of the judiciary’s powers, both Houses of the Maharashtra State Legislature have passed proposals stating that they will not take cognizance of or reply to any notice sent by the High Court or the Supreme Court in the Breach of Privilege motion against Republic TV editor and anchor Arnab Goswami.
This has added a new twist to the debate over the separation of powers between the judiciary and legislature.
What is the doctrine of separation of power?
The doctrine of separation of power is a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, even though it is not specifically mentioned in its text.
It implies that the three pillars of democracy, namely the executive, judiciary and legislature, perform separate functions and act as separate entities.
One of the features of the doctrine is that one arm of the state should not interfere in the functioning of the other organs or exercise a function of another organ.
What legal provisions has the state assembly invoked while passing the proposal?
The proposal cites two articles of the constitution as the basis of its argument. They are:
Article 194 of the Constitution, which lays down the powers and privileges of the Houses of Legislatures.
Article 212 states that the validity of any proceedings in the Legislature of a State shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.
AIIMS scientists find lead in milk samples in Eluru
Scientists of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have revealed that lead was noticed in milk samples collected in Eluru town and its neighbouring villages in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
With the outbreak of the undiagnosed illness in Eluru and its adjoining areas on December 4, experts and doctors from various organisations rushed to the district and collected food, water, milk, blood and other samples.
Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
WHO has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme to form the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.
Factors contributing to lead poisoning:
Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.
They also smelt the recovered lead in crude, open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes poisoning the surrounding community.
Human Development Index
United Nations’ Human Development Index was released recently.
What is HDI?
Published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a statistical tool used to measure a country’s overall achievement in its social and economic dimensions. The social and economic dimensions of a country are based on the health of people, their level of education attainment and their standard of living.
What’s unique about this year’s index?
For the first time, the United Nations Development Programme introduced a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint, which measures the amount of fossil fuels, metals and other resources used to make the goods and services it consumes.
This metric is called- the Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI.
India dropped two ranks, standing at 131 out of 189 countries.
If the Index were adjusted to assess the planetary pressures caused by each nation’s development, India would move up eight places in the ranking, according to the report.
Performance of other countries:
Norway tops the HDI. It, however, falls 15 places if the new metric (The Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI) is used, leaving Ireland at the top of the table.
In fact, 50 countries would drop entirely out of the “very high human development group” category, using this new metric.
Australia falls 72 places in the ranking, while the United States and Canada would fall 45 and 40 places respectively, reflecting their disproportionate impact on natural resources.
China would drop 16 places from its current ranking of 85.
Impact of pandemic:
Although this year’s report covers 2019 only, and does not account for the impact of COVID, it projected that in 2020, global HDI would fall below for the first time in the three decades since the Index was introduced.
U.S. puts India on ‘currency manipulators’ monitoring list
The U.S. Treasury has labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators.
It has also added three new names- Taiwan, Thailand and India- to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.
To be labeled a manipulator by the U.S. Treasury:
In the year through June 2020 Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened heavily in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.
India and Singapore had intervened in the foreign exchange market in a “sustained, asymmetric manner” but did not meet other requirements to warrant designation as manipulators.
While the designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties, it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.
What is currency manipulation and who determines it?
The US Department of the Treasury publishes a semi-annual report in which the developments in global economic and exchange rate policies are reviewed.
If a US trade partner meets three assessment criteria, the US labels it a currency manipulator.
The US Treasury department defines currency manipulation as when countries deliberately influence the exchange rate between their currency and the US dollar to gain “unfair competitive advantage in international trade”.